California Dog Leash Law
- September 30, 2015
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Many dog owners keep their dogs kenneled or in a small backyard while they’re at work all day. Some may have the urge to open the backyard gate and let the dog roam around the neighborhood for a few minutes to release some pent-up energy after being stuck in a small space all day. Not only is this not a good idea, but it’s not even legal – at least not in California. The state has leash laws in place, and some cities are stricter than others when it comes to making sure dog owners keep their pooches under control so residents can live in safety. If you’re a dog owner, you’ll want to understand the laws and how they affect you so you don’t get fined or criminally charged for letting Fido run around the block.
First of all, the law applies to unconfined dogs. If the dog is fenced in your backyard, then no leash is necessary. Once he’s out of the backyard, though, it’s time to put on that leash. If you take your dog to a dog park, you can take the leash off there and allow him to play, but once the fun is over, make sure to put the leash back on.
The only exception to this rule is if your pooch is extremely well-trained. Some cities will waive the leash law requirement if your dog has completed obedience training. Other cities will waive the requirement if your dog is under voice control, meaning that your dog is capable of listening to your commands and would stop any unfavorable activity if you simply told him “no!”
So if your pooch needs to be on a leash, is there a specific one you should use? This varies from city to city. Some cities require a leash of no more than 6 feet long, while others allow up to 8 feet. Some have no restrictions. Many dog owners are tempted to buy retractable leashes, but some jurisdictions frown on this approach, since it limits a person’s control over their dog. Play it safe and opt for a short, non-retractable leash, which will allow you to exhibit maximum control over your dog.
If your dog is caught without a leash, there are a variety of punishments you could face. You might get off with a warning if this is your first offense. However, if this is a frequent problem, you could be fined or charged with a misdemeanor.